If you’ve tried meditation thinking it would be quiet and peaceful you have probably been surprised to discover that it is quite a challenge. In a Zen meditative practice you are taught to meditate often for hours at a time in a seated position with an emphasis on maintaining a fixed posture. Usually, one’s posture slips as the meditation wears on and this is believed to adversely affect the meditation.
In addition, people’s minds are often busy with many random thoughts so meditation seems difficult. The meditator ends up struggling with mind drift, and feels they are failing at the meditation. What they discover is they can’t win the war with the mind, and their fight to do so will go on forever. I have had people tell me they have meditated for years, and in some cases decades, and don’t feel they have significantly transformed or reached the goals they had. The question then is, “what do you do?”
There are many meditation benefits such as for reducing stress, emotional tranquility, healing, peace of mind, or to explore spirituality. People have heard that meditation is a way to achieve all of that as well as higher states of consciousness and enlightenment. The frustration is that they have heard or read that others have attained wonderful breakthroughs and they wonder why they seem thwarted.
First of all, it would be helpful for you to let go of your thoughts about what you think meditation is, because whatever you think it is you will find it turns out to be somewhat different from your expectations. The mind cannot really know what it has not yet experienced. It can only project its ideas based on what it has gathered from others.
Meditation is a way to reach a very natural state which does not require effort to maintain or require mental processes to control. If the mind is focused on outer form and postures or techniques it is using the mind to try to reach a state beyond the mind which doesn’t work. You do not want to enter a meditation with the thoughts of how to get it right, or how to control the “monkey mind” which keeps jumping all around.
Some people can get quite good at controlling their mind and body after years of meditation practice, but this can create an illusion of spiritual attainment. As soon as the control is relaxed the person goes back to where they were before the meditation. So meditation must be entered into without any intention of controlling the meditation. Admittedly, this can be challenging since we are conditioned to believe we need control. The underlying fear or concern is that if we are not in control we will then be out of control, or there will be no progress or direction to the meditation. This is precisely why the mind loves practices and techniques such as following the breath, reciting a mantra, focusing on the point between the eyes or the naval. However, when you let go of techniques you discover a natural state of being. At the beginning of a meditation these meditation techniques can useful since they are ways of helping your mind to be present, but after settling in you let go and observe. Spirituality is not about watching the breath, but waking up to your natural spiritual nature, and the key to that discovery is letting go of control.
The mind loves to have something to master, but true meditation is more of an exploration of what is present. It can be facilitated by asking oneself some simple questions such as, “what am I?” and “who am I?” Then, after asking these questions you observe what comes up.
All techniques are a means to an end and what is often called true meditation is reached when all techniques are dropped and you experience just being. In most cases some techniques are helpful to get a person to the threshold of the natural state of being, but you can’t make that happen with techniques. When the natural state of being emerges the techniques naturally drop away, but they can be very useful until the natural state is permanent. Our website has many meditation mp3, and meditation cd programs, and other meditation downloads to help you, as well as live meditation retreats. View our suggested products below.